THE LEFT IS GAUCHE
In English, the word gauche means "tactless", but in the original French, it means "left", and the definition shifted because left hands were associated with awkwardness (this is why the socialist party in France is called the parti de gauche, or "left party"). This right-handed historical actually influenced a ton of words, including sinister, which I've already covered, and a word I'll talk about tomorrow. Gauche comes from the verb gauchir, which meant "to turn", and that is from the Old French verb gaucher, which is best translated as "swerve". Gaucher traces to the Proto-Germanic word wankjan, which had the same definition, and that ultimately derives from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction welh, "turn" or "roll". After its first attestation in a 1751 letter, usage of the word gauche increased until a peak in the mid-197os, and is now fading out of favor.
4/5/2020 02:51:30 pm
You're not quite correct about the origin of "left" in politics. Members of the National Assembly in France in 1789 met to draft a new Constitution and members began to seat themselves with others of the same political views. The anti-monarchists sat on the left and the more conservative members sat on the right.
3/14/2023 07:45:41 pm
Where’s your etymology website?
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.